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First look: 6 reasons Apple’s new MacBook Air might just be the ultimate travel laptop

July 14, 2022
9 min read
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I’m always on the lookout for new technology that’ll enhance the travel experience.

When Apple unveiled the new MacBook Air in early June, I immediately thought the device could become my go-to travel laptop.

With a revamped design focused on portability along with other improvements, the tech giant seemed to have built a computer that deserved a spot in my travel backpack.

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(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Nearly six weeks since the big (virtual) reveal, the computer is about to hit store shelves on Friday, July 15. I’ve been eager to put the device to the test, and if my first few hours with the new MacBook Air are any indication, it will become my new go-to when I travel. Here’s why.

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Design built on portability

Headlining the changes to the latest MacBook Air is an all-new design. Gone are the days of the tapered wedge design, as the new model features a uniform all-aluminum enclosure that delivers an even lighter and more portable package than its predecessor.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

At just under half an inch thick, the MacBook Air is now one of Apple’s thinnest laptops. It weighs 2.7 pounds, which is roughly equivalent to the 2020 MacBook Air (which remains available for sale for $999).

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Holding the new computer in my hands, I could immediately feel the overall reduction in volume compared to the 2020 MacBook Air. The portability of the new Air was especially noticeable compared to the 13-inch MacBook Pro I typically use for work.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

I found that the new design felt more substantial, but not at all heavier, than the previous tapered version. Though I haven't (yet) had the opportunity to take the computer on a trip, it's definitely be the computer I'd want to bring.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

For one, I'm always looking for ways to lighten my travel backpack. Plus, the Air is portable enough that it can easily move from the security bin to the lounge to the tray table and then to the hotel room without it feeling unwieldy.

Note that the new Air isn't as compact as Apple's legacy 12-inch MacBook, but it gets close enough. Plus, it packs plenty of upgrades to make it a worthy contender for the top travel laptop.

MagSafe is back to prevent accidents

We've all been there. We're walking around the office, coffee shop or hotel lobby, and we accidentally trip over a wire.

If you tripped over the USB-C charging cable of the previous MacBook Air, odds are that the computer would go flying. But with the new model, you need not worry about accidentally walking into your charging cable.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The latest Air reintroduces the popular MagSafe charging port and cable that magnetically snaps into place — and will quickly release if you (or anyone around you) accidentally pulls the cable.

It's been a few years since I've used a MagSafe charging cable, but I'm thrilled that it's back. The braided cables are even color-coordinated to the four finishes for the MacBook Air: silver, starlight, space gray and midnight.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Along with the MagSafe port, Apple is also introducing a more travel-friendly way to charge your device. The more expensive $1,499 model includes a new compact 35W dual USB-C power adapter, and the charger is available as a $20 upgrade on the $1,199 base model.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Though it's hard to get a sense of its size in marketing photos, I found the new brick to be much smaller and more compact than I had originally envisioned.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The dual-port charger means that you can carry one less charging brick in your bag, assuming that you can charge your second device using a USB-C cable (which includes the iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods).

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The new MacBook Air also supports fast charging, so if you have a larger 67W charging brick (possibly from an old MacBook Pro), you can get to 50% in just half an hour.

A full-size keyboard

When I'm traveling, I'm usually writing or editing stories for the site. I'm an especially heavy keyboard user, and it's exciting this is the first Air model to feature a full keyboard.

All the previous Air models had a smaller row of function keys, which I found hard to use when working in Excel or just trying to control the volume or brightness. I often preferred to travel with a larger device if it meant access to a complete keyboard.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

As with the 2020 version of the Air, the new model sports a backlit Magic Keyboard (as opposed to the butterfly mechanism that the tech giant used previously, which would frequently experience sticky and unresponsive keys.) But this model has a full row of standard-size function keys.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

I typed much of this article using the new keyboard and found the large Force Touch trackpad and Touch ID button also made it easy to control and unlock the computer.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

An all-trip battery life

The world's longest flight clocks in at just over 18 hours, and Apple claims its new Air can last that entire time playing videos without a single charge (something I'm looking forward to putting to the test in the coming weeks).

For travelers who have trouble finding power outlets on the road, the Air's impressive battery life should make it easy to use all day long without going out of your way to find an outlet.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Thanks to the introduction of Apple's silicon chips, the tech giant has been able to extend the battery life of its laptops to levels that were previously unheard of with Intel chips.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The 2020 version of the Air received high praise for its long battery life, and the 2022 version is poised to do the same — a big reason why travelers might consider buying one of these laptops.

Larger, brighter screen in a lighter package

The screen on Apple's latest Air measures 13.6 inches diagonally, up 0.3 inches from the previous generation computer. The tech company was able to make the screen larger by narrowing the bezels.

You'll also find a small notch cutout near the menu bar, which houses the upgraded camera and other small internal components. The notch hasn't bothered me much in the time I've already spent using the Air, since it blends with the menu bar.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The larger screen still fits in the lighter MacBook Air, meaning you're getting more screen real estate without the computer being larger or bulkier.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Another subtle but immediately noticeable improvement with the display is the increased brightness levels, which can be great when working on the go in light-drenched spaces, such as airports.

Performance for all your tasks

While I've only had a few hours to play around on the computer, I've already noticed a big improvement in performance.

In recent years, Apple has been transitioning its computers away from Intel processors to its proprietary silicon chips. This has enabled the tech giant to further integrate the hardware and software design process, bringing improved performance and better battery life to its entire laptop lineup.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Along with the new MacBook Air (and updated 13-inch MacBook Pro), Apple is also debuting its latest M2 chip.

For those who were using Intel-based machines before (myself included), most tasks will immediately feel snappier. Opening apps, editing pictures and videos and writing lines of codes all feel like a breeze on the new Air.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Plus, the Air continues to be a fanless computer, meaning that it'll stay completely silent, no matter what task you're working on. That's been the hardest thing to get used to so far, as my Intel-based MacBook Pro sometimes sounds like an airplane taking off. (The Air uses a heat sink to pull heat away from the processor instead.)

Bottom line

If you're a traveler who is already in the Apple ecosystem, the company's new MacBook Air should be high on your list when it's time to upgrade your computer.

The new, thinner and lighter design delivers incredible portability, and the laptop also packs a slew of improvements into the aluminum enclosure.

From all-day battery life to a larger, full-size keyboard, being productive on the go is poised to become easier with this new machine. Plus, with the return of MagSafe, if you (or a fellow traveler) accidentally trips over your charging cable, you won't need to worry about it damaging your device.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Of course, all the new tech comes at a cost: $1,199 for the entry-level model and $1,499 for the higher-end configuration, with build-to-order options getting even more expensive.

But, if you're looking to invest in a new everyday, travel-friendly laptop, this is certainly one to consider. And if you do purchase a new MacBook Air, be sure to use a credit card that includes purchase protection.

You may also want to wait for a shopping portal bonus on Apple.com (or another electronics retailer), but read the terms before you purchase because new products can sometimes be excluded.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases